With concerts and festivals being cancelled worldwide due to Covid, many promoters have taken to going digital in order to bring the event to directly to the people. Last Friday kicked off the two week experience known as the Alaska World Arts Festival. What would normally be taking place down in Homer, is now going to be mostly virtual and will be broadcasted across the globe. I spoke with the Sally Oberstein, the festival’s producer to find out what you need to know about this great event.

Hello Sally,tell me about the festival coming up this week.

This is our 2nd Annual Alaska World Arts Festival, delivering 30+ performances and workshops right to your living room Sept. 11-23 that will rock you, inspire you, warm your heart, and make you laugh. It offerseverything from literature, storytelling, and drama, to dance, music, and kinetic sculptures.

We have artists from across the U.S and the world. You'll want to cha-cha with dances from the Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía, Club Culturel of Burundi, and Khmer and Inuit dancers -(well maybe not actually cha-cha). Musicians from Australia to Hungary to Alaska will keep your feet tapping and comedians, actors, and writers from across the globe will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Who is this festival geared towards?

The whole point is to share culture. That means for everyone. There are events for kids, teens, families, and adults. Some are interactive. Some are just fascinating to watch. It would definitely bring some excitement to homeschoolers. And for anyone missing travel these days, it totally brings the world into your living room. We’re hoping to continue meeting the goals of the festival by connecting people through culture and the arts.

Are there any events where people can craft along at home?

Good question. There are some great interactive workshops like Silk Scarf Dyeing, Music Composition/Improvisation, Writing, Watercolor, and Video Blogging.

What can people look forward to this year?

There are almost too many things to mention. I expect to be entirely entertained by Fiona Rose’s One-Woman Band, a DramaSlam, and a ridiculous kinetic sculpture making duo.

I’m looking forward to some of the group events like the International Comedy Showcase, Late Night Aussie Acoustic, Dance Around the World, FisherPoets, and Global Acts of Kindness stories. I also expect to get a lot out all of the workshops (a capella, stand-up comedy, writing, and social media for artists).

How has Covid changed this year’s lineup?

Most of it is virtual this year for obvious reasons.

Some of the artists were disappointed when they learned we were going virtual, but all of them agreed to present virtually. And those numbers kept growing. Now we have about 100 artists from 20 countries presenting 30+ events. Many of them are interested in visiting Alaska and are hoping to join us in Homer for the 2021 Alaska World Arts Festival.

What does the switch to virtual festivals mean for the future of the AWAF?

We’ll see how this year’s festival turns out, but we’re paying close attention to the benefits of having virtual events. With people in remote parts of the world being able to participate virtually as artists and audience members, we hope to keep at least a portion of the festival available for them online. Depending on the success of this year, we’ll consider taking the best of what makes virtual work andcombining that with bringing people together at live events. Homer is a piece of art in itself and naturally we want share that with people.

What are some of the benefits that you found in taking the festival online?

Because we went virtual, we have been able to bring in more international performers and are not incurring the cost of travel and accommodations for the artists. The same can be said for all of the festival goers who would normally need to take time off to come visit Homer during that time. That’s a big savings for both our budget and our environment. We were also able to pass those savings on to the attendees and lower event prices.

How much does it cost to attend the World Arts Festival?

There are a lot of FREE events and a lot of events that cost $10. A two-week All Festival Art pass is only $100 and gets you in to all the events so it is definitely a bargain if you find 10 or more workshops and performances that you want to join. We’re giving out some scholarships to folks who might not be able to reap the benefits of the festival because of cost. Applications are online and their narratives have to be compelling. This year's first Festival scholarship was awarded to teacher Alberta Demantle, and her classroom in the Yupik village school of Akiak, Alaska.

We’re pretty happy to be able to share such worldwide artistic talent with everyone and wanted to make this festival as affordable as possible.

Sounds like a great time! Where can readers go to find out more or attend the festival?

QR code

Anyone visiting the Alaska World Arts.org website can find links to the Festival Guide or they can go directly by scanning the QR code and going to www.alaskaworldarts.org/festival-guide

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